The Friendly Beasts


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Jesus our brother, kind and good

Was humbly born in a stable rude

And the friendly beasts around Him stood,

Jesus our brother, kind and good.

"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown,

"I carried His mother up hill and down;

I carried her safely to Bethlehem town."

"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

"I," said the cow all white and red

"I gave Him my manger for His bed;

I gave him my hay to pillow his head."

"I," said the cow all white and red.

"I," said the sheep with curly horn,

"I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;

He wore my coat on Christmas morn."

"I," said the sheep with curly horn.

"I," said the dove from the rafters high,

"I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry;

We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I."

"I," said the dove from the rafters high.

Thus every beast by some good spell,

In the stable dark was glad to tell

Of the gift he gave Immanuel,

The gift he gave Immanuel.

 —12th century, Latin


...”and [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Gospel of Luke 2:7



Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)

I see a glory in the stable grow

Which, with the ox’s dullness might at length

Give me an ox’s strength.

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)

I see my Saviour where I looked for hay;

So may my beastlike folly learn at least

The patience of a beast.

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)

I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;

Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence

Some woolly innocence!

——C. S. Lewis

Did you know C. S. Lewis wrote poetry? It’s not his most well-known or beloved writing, but it certainly reflects his deepest interests. The author of The Chronicles of Narnia had a fanciful imagination deeply connected to his faith. He believed a glorious world once existed, when human beings, animals, trees and all creation could communicate with one another—hence, the talking beasts of Narnia. Interestingly, this poem is also about beasts and our commonness with them. Like the carol, The Friendly Beasts, perhaps we might learn, how to humbly play our part as creatures of God.

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Prayer: God, help us honor your creation and be thankful for all you have made. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

—Rev. Edwin Estevez